News Letters

Letter from Fr John 5th June 2020

Dear parishioners of St Anne’s and St Jerome’s,

Earlier today (4th June), I asked John Mc Carthy to post an information update on our website. In the last few days, the Archdiocese has written to all parish priests to inform us that preparations are now being made for the opening of some churches for private prayer. It is clear after reading this letter, that the requirements are quite stringent. At first, only a small number of churches will be allowed to open. I think that the diocese will watch how that all goes carefully before permitting more churches to open for prayer.

Everything depends on a nominated church being able to meet all the requirements of volunteers, cleaning and so on. The final decision will be taken by the Archbishop. This is why Father Bernard and I decided that we would start with Our Lady’s and invite Catholics from across the town to volunteer to help. Please consider volunteering if you fit the criteria.

The question that is in everyone’s minds is, of course, when can we get back to Mass? There are no dates, but all the indications are that it will be quite some time yet. The infection rate and death rate are falling very slowly and the authorities remain very cautious. The Archdiocese indicated that when Mass does return, it will be celebrated for smaller numbers.

So it is a mixed bag at the moment. Let’s see how things progress with the opening of the churches for personal prayer. In the meantime, let’s continue to reach out, to pray and to take good care. I will write to you all over the weekend with some further thoughts.

God bless you all!

Father John

Letter from Fr. John and Fr. Bernard- 4th June 2020

Dear Parishioners of St Jerome’s and St Anne’s

CATHOLIC CHURCH REOPENING IN FORMBY FOR PRIVATE PRAYER

This letter summarizes the information we have at this present moment concerning the potential for reopening Catholic Churches for private prayer in Formby and is a request for volunteers

The staged approach and Archbishop’s Permission

We are currently waiting for an announcement from the government and the Bishops’ Conference that the reopening of churches for private prayer is allowed.  During this waiting period the Archbishops’ Council and the Trustees have been meeting to prepare what we need to do to reopen selected churches. 

There is a staged response as far as church reopening is concerned:

  • Stage 1: the closure of our places of worship (we are at this stage)
  • Stage 2: will be the opening of a small number of churches for private prayer
  • Stage 3: will move us towards liturgical celebrations in the presence of small numbers, there may well be several other stages.

This letter is in preparation for stage 2, ‘a reopening of selected churches for private prayer’.

The Archbishop has set in place a clear procedure for this to happen. Only a small number of churches will be initially permitted to open.  The Archbishop will issue a document of permission indicating which churches can open and at what times. No other churches may be opened for any reason other than those so decreed.

Catholic Churches in Formby

Fr Bernard and Fr John have decided that in the Formby area, ONLY one church will reopen in stage 2 due to the number of volunteers required to safely manage and clean a church continuously when a church is open for private prayer.

They have decided the church to propose opening to the Archbishop is Our Lady Of Compassion for the following reasons:

  • The church is in the centre of Formby; it is the best located for access
  • The church is usually open during the day
  • The church is the largest of the Catholic Churches in Formby and for the same number of volunteers there can be more capacity in the church for private prayer

Volunteer Teams

For the time the church is open for private prayer there needs to be a volunteer team comprising of 5 people; which are 4 ushers (1 each on the entry and exit with 2 inside the church to guide/manage people in church and around the single direction circuit), and 1 cleaner to sanitise the church before and after the set opening/closing times as well as the seat after each person leaves and before the next uses the seat to pray) – (the cleaner will use PPE).  Volunteers must be below the age of 70 years and must not fall into the Government shielded category no matter what age – more information and exemptions at gov.uk/coronavirus. 

The Diocese will provide centrally all that is needed; signage, sanitisation and cleaning equipment, posters and information to use and adapt to circumstances. The central provision will also make available the necessary training for volunteers.

So what next?

  1. Volunteers are required to act as ushers and cleaners.  Please forward your name, number of hours you can commit to volunteering per week and the days and times you are available to parish offices via email.  If you can form a team please forward the names of all team members.  
  2. From the individual names, teams will be formed.  Each team will be responsible for a specific day & time slot.
  3. Once the number of teams is known the hours that the church can be opened safely can be determined  
  4. Initially, as a pilot it is thought that the aim should be that the church should open around lunch time on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  (The volunteering list and opening hours will form the basis of the request for reopening.)
  5. Training will be provided and must be attended by all volunteers – it is hoped that this will be on-line training
  6. A risk assessment will be carried out when the criteria is known.  

Once all the Formby information is collated Fr Bernard and Fr John will review it. They will then make a final decision if the information pack conforms to the archdiocesan safety criteria, has merit and will be forwarded to the Dean for inclusion in the Pastoral Area’s submission.  The Archbishop will then decide if he will issue a document of permission for Our Lady Of Compassion church to reopen in stage 2.

When we know more, we will communicate the information and any detailed guidance notes.

Thank you for your support.

From Fr Bernard and Fr John

Fr. John’s Letter – 31st May 2020

Dear Parishioners of St Jerome’s and St Anne’s

‘Send forth your Spirit O Lord, and renew the face of the earth’.

The great Feast of the Holy Spirit has arrived! Pentecost. What a wonderful day this is! The day the Church was born. The day the Spirit was poured out on the Apostles. The last day of the Season of Easter.

What an Easter Season it has been! We have never experienced anything like it. But here we are. The Lord is always speaking to each one of us in our hearts. What is he saying to us?

The words of the psalmist in today’s Mass have a special message for us. We ask God to send His Spirit. He does so generously, again and again. But for what purpose? ‘Renew the face of the earth’ the psalmist prays. It might seem an impossible prayer. After all, there seems to be more bad news than good at the moment. Is a renewal of our earth, of our times really possible?

Perhaps it is time to remind ourselves that with God, all things are possible. His Spirit can move in any place, in any person, at any time. But it is also true that the Holy Spirit is always seeking the one thing that makes real change, true renewal possible; an open and sincere heart. We see this truth again and again in the Scriptures. When God wanted to act, He always found one person who was truly ready to respond, to listen, to change.

Greatest among these was Our Lady. We are told that she was there in the Upper Room that first Pentecost morning. What breathtaking things God was able to achieve through her! Yet, she is mentioned so few times in the New Testament. Indeed, the great figures of the Bible seem to come from nowhere and then quietly fade into the background.

The Holy Spirit can renew the face of the earth! But not in a way that is newsworthy. The intense surge of joy that drove the Apostles into the streets of Jerusalem at Pentecost quickly distilled into a flame that burned steadily in their hearts. The Spirit enabled them to live the Gospel fully and therefore to proclaim it effectively.

On this great Feast of Pentecost, what prayer should we raise to the Holy Spirit? That we might glance back at the last ten weeks, this exceptional time, and be able to trace the movement of the Holy Spirit in our minds and hearts. To be alert to His invitation to open ourselves to Him, to surrender ourselves to Him. To trust, even though we understand little of what is happening around us. To be grateful for all we have received. To begin again each day to live the teachings of Jesus.

‘Renew the face of the earth’. Out of the sufferings and anxieties of this pandemic, the Holy Spirit is creating something new. Will we allow Him to renew us, to work through us so that the face of God might be seen in our times? Let us all pray together today; ‘Come Holy Spirit’.

May God bless you all!

Father John

Fr. John’s Letter – 23rd May 2020

Dear Parishioners of St Jerome’s and St Anne’s

‘Father, the hour has come, glorify your Son’

These beautiful words found in the Gospel of John in today’s Mass set the scene for the remaining days of the Easter Season. Jesus has returned to his Father. One promise of Jesus remains to be fulfilled; that when he returns to his Father ‘I will send you the Advocate who will remind you of all that I have taught you’. It is time for us all to prepare for the great Feast of the Holy Spirit, Pentecost, which occurs next Sunday.

Why do we need to prepare ourselves for this great Feast? The answer is found in the Acts of the Apostles. After Jesus had ascended into heaven, we are told that the Apostles gathered in the Upper Room with a number of devout women, including Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Why were they there? To await the fulfilment of the promise of Jesus. They remained there together, waiting patiently.

Did they have any idea of what was to happen? Not at all. How did they spend those days together? ‘In prayer’ we are told. I am sure that there were many conversations also about all that had happened to them. But when the Apostles were committing their memoirs to the written word, it was the prayer together that they remembered.

By tradition, the number of days that transpired between the Ascension of the Lord and the coming of the Holy Spirit was Nine. The Latin word for Nine is ‘Novem’. It is from this Latin word that we derive the word ‘Novena’. Nine days of prayer, which imitates the first ever Novena, the days spent by the Apostles and devout women in prayer, awaiting the Holy Spirit.

‘Glorify your Son’. This is the prayer of Jesus to his Father. The prayer was answered. How? The Father raised his Son from the dead and received him triumphantly into heaven. But this is not the only glory that Jesus receives. His true glory is seen in the lives of his disciples. The true identity of Jesus, the saving power of his teaching is not seen in words, but in the lives and deeds of his brothers and sisters. This is the glory Jesus seeks, this is the glory he asked of his Father.

So, how then should we prepare for this Feast? I would like to suggest that we keep it simple. To ask the Holy Spirit to remind us of everything that Jesus taught us. Then, understanding that teaching, asking for this grace;  Father, you sent the Holy Spirit to the Apostles. Send Him to us also, and glorify your Son in us. Help us to understand that as powerful as words can sometimes be, it is actions and deeds that convert others and convince them of your existence.

Are we ready to be reminded of this great truth? In a world jaded by words, false promises and broken promises, so many are in need of the gentle presence of Jesus who moved among the crowds ‘doing good’ without the need for attention and acknowledgement. Few words are needed. Many deeds of selfless and hidden acts of love are desperately needed. Here the Holy Spirit reveals himself and, in those who follow this path, the prayer of Jesus is answered again and again; ‘Father, glorify your Son’.

God bless you all!

Father John

Fr. John’s Letter – Feast of the Ascension of the Lord

Dear Parishioners of St Jerome’s and St Anne’s

‘As he said this, he was lifted up while they looked on, and a cloud took him from their sight’

Today, dear friends, the Church celebrates the great Feast of the Ascension of the Lord. We are asked to focus our prayer and thoughts on Jesus as he bids farewell to his apostles and is ‘lifted up’ to his Father. It marks the final moment of his earthly life and the completion of the mission he received from his Father; to reconcile every human being to God.

But this Feast day is not primarily about a farewell, an ending, a return home for Jesus. It is about those he has saved, those whom he has introduced into the family of God. It is about us, you and me. Firstly, then, let us ask where exactly did Jesus go? The Scriptures tell us that he was ‘lifted up’. This lifting up has inspired countless works of art, as Jesus is depicted among the clouds. But the meaning is far deeper. ‘Lifted up’ is a term with deep Old Testament roots. It denotes a ‘royal enthronement’. The Ascension is the enthronement, the victory of Jesus. His victory parade.

In victory parades of old, the conqueror returns with the spoils of war; treasure, gifts, slaves. What are the spoils of the victory parade of Jesus? Slaves? Yes, but no longer slaves! It is you and me taken into heaven, blinking in disbelief at the joy and light around us as we are led to the royal throne. There, our tattered rags are removed and we are cleansed and dressed as sons and daughters of the King. Sin, struggle, grace, triumph all make sense at this moment. We are no longer desperate outcasts and wanderers. We have been brought home.

Where is this home exactly? It is Heaven. But where is Heaven? Pope Benedict XVI, as always, has a simple but profound explanation.

‘Heaven does not indicate a place above the stars but something far more daring and sublime: it indicates Christ himself, the divine Person, who welcomes humanity fully and forever, the one in whom God and man are inseparably united for ever.
Man henceforth finds room in God for ever’.

The place where you and I will be inseparably united with God for ever. This is what our eyes are fixed on today. Tragedies come and go. Viruses come and go. Sufferings come and go. But when our earthly race has been run, it is God who awaits us and who has made room for each one of us in Him. With all that awaits us, let us be joyful and find comfort.

God bless you all!

Father John

Foodbank Update – 19th May 2020

Dear Parishioners of St Jerome’s and St Anne’s

The Foodbank who still needing supplies desperately, especially with so many parents jobless. This situation is only going to get worse with the need for help growing on a daily basis, please keep giving. Every little bit of food you are donating is being used by those currently in need but as we have been told those numbers are growing.
The Foodbank is always in need of the usual things that you give but also toiletries, jams and spreads for sliced bread would be greatly appreciated.
Donations can be dropped off at Alice and Paddy Joyce’s home at 35 Freshfield Road, but they need to be there before 1pm on a Friday.
Donations can also be left at Waitrose , Tesco and the One Stop shop opposite the Cross House pub.
If anyone would prefer items to be picked up, please call Nichola on 07891 437211.

Take care and stay well

God Bless

John

Fr. John’s Update – 18th May 2020

Dear Parishioners of St Jerome’s and St Anne’s

I hope that you are all keeping well and safe. You are all in my thoughts and prayers very often. I know that this is a very difficult time for all of us, none more so than for those living on their own. There is a lot of hidden suffering behind closed doors. Please think of those that you might be able to reach out to with a phone call or an e mail, even if it is just one person. A small gesture of kindness can go a long way.

You may have read in the media that senior Church officials are pressing the Government to permit the opening of at least some churches for private prayer. Perhaps it will work in some places, but it won’t be practical everywhere. The list of requirements to make the building safe and to protect those coming to pray, is quite formidable. Apart from these media reports, parish priests have heard nothing at all. If it can be proven to work, I suspect it will be rolled out very gradually and carefully. With the infection rate remaining high, I suspect that most people will prefer to stay at home until the situation improves. As for the resumption of public Masses, that day seems much further away.

All in all, we are not likely to be able to return to church for some time to come. Once news comes through, I shall make sure that you all know what is happening as quickly as possible.

Speaking of public Masses, I want to repeat here what I wrote in the parish news section of our website yesterday. Once the Bishops decided to cease all public Masses, I stopped taking any further Mass Intentions. I shall not accept anymore until our public Masses resume. The reason for this is that each Mass intention must be assigned a date and time and the Intention must be publicly published. I am not permitted to stockpile Mass Intentions for a later time. So we must wait until Public Masses are resumed.

May I ask, therefore, that no Mass Intentions are requested or handed in. Instead, I have suggested that anyone may send in specific requests for prayer which can be published on the website. In this way, all of us can pray for the specific needs put before us.

May God bless you all,

Father John

Fr. John’s Letter – 17th May 2020

Dear Parishioners of St Jerome’s and St Anne’s

‘If you love me you will keep my commandments’

Today we have arrived at the Sixth Sunday of Easter. The Great Season of Easter is moving towards its end. Jesus continues to speak to his disciples in today’s Gospel. He mentions two words in the same sentence which we don’t often see together; ‘Love’ and ‘Commandments’. This seems somewhat strange to the modern mind. Surely, love is all that is required. If we love, then commandments and rules are surely somewhat irrelevant?

I grew up in the 1960’s and 1970’s. This question was at the heart of our culture. The massive reaction against authority in the wake of two world wars marked the world view of so many. It seemed to be a golden age of fellowship and community.  Now, it seems we have moved from a culture of ‘we’ to a culture of ‘I’.  What went wrong?

Human love is beautiful, but frail. It is capable of great things but is easily distracted. The love of which Jesus speaks is not frail or fickle. It is the very life of God. It takes human love and makes it capable of so much more. The life of God fills us and completes us.

Only when we begin to understand what it means to be loved by God, can we talk about His commandments.  God never orders us, cajoles or threatens us. He does not intimidate or frighten us. He invites us. He draws us to Himself. He loves us even when we cannot or will not return His love.

So what are the commandments of which Jesus speaks? He gave us one; a new commandment.  ‘Love one another as I have loved you’. To love God and our neighbour is simply an invitation to look beyond ourselves and discover the joy of being loved by God and sharing that love with others.

Easier said than done? Certainly! The struggle to allow God’s love to seize hold of my poor love is lifelong. But how wonderful when it manages to break through! Little by little, God’s love takes hold of us and grows in us. The commandment to love becomes a little easier.

Open these hearts that you have made Lord and make them capable of love that flows from you, a love that looks beyond self and desires to give itself and spend itself for others.

May God bless you all,

Father John

Parish Giving – 16th May 2020

Dear All,

 
I hope you are all well and coping with the continued lockdown.
 
Quite a number of you have asked about your normal giving to the parish and how it can continue. Some of you have online banking and have been able to set up direct debits, although I am conscious that some systems aren’t allowing the details that I am able to give.
 
The Archdiocese has now come up with to ways of giving;
 
The first is online following this link for St Jerome’s – 
 

 

And this link for St. Anne’s – 
 

 

I have had a go of this and succeeded so it must be fairly easy. If you do have a problem there is a detailed guide on how to donate on the website and if any of your parishioners would like support with this, please contact a.kiely@rcaol.org.uk with name and telephone number and we will endeavour to call to assist as quickly as possible.
 
You can also give by text message using your mobile phone. There are a few options to choose;
 
For St Jeromes’s – 
 
Text  STJEROME to 70085 to donate £2. Texts cost £2 plus one standard rate message and you’ll be opting in to hear more about our work and fundraising via telephone and SMS. If you’d like to give £2 but do not wish to receive marketing communications, text STJEROMENOINFO to 70085.

Text  STJEROME to 70450 to donate £3. Texts cost £3 plus one standard rate message and you’ll be opting in to hear more about our work and fundraising via telephone and SMS. If you’d like to give £3 but do not wish to receive marketing communications, text  STJEROMENOINFO to 70450.

Text  STJEROME to 70460 to donate £5. Texts cost £5 plus one standard rate message and you’ll be opting in to hear more about our work and fundraising via telephone and SMS. If you’d like to give £5 but do not wish to receive marketing communications, text  STJEROMENOINFO to 70460.

Text STJEROME to 70470 to donate £10. Texts cost £10 plus one standard rate message and you’ll be opting in to hear more about our work and fundraising via telephone and SMS. If you’d like to give £10 but do not wish to receive marketing communications, text  STJEROMENOINFOto 70470.
For St. Anne’s –
Text  SAINTANNE to 70085 to donate £2. Texts cost £2 plus one standard rate message and you’ll be opting in to hear more about our work and fundraising via telephone and SMS. If you’d like to give £2 but do not wish to receive marketing communications, text SAINTANNENOINFO to 70085.

Text  SAINTANNE to 70450 to donate £3. Texts cost £3 plus one standard rate message and you’ll be opting in to hear more about our work and fundraising via telephone and SMS. If you’d like to give £3 but do not wish to receive marketing communications, text  SAINTANNENOINFO to 70450.

Text  SAINTANNE to 70460 to donate £5. Texts cost £5 plus one standard rate message and you’ll be opting in to hear more about our work and fundraising via telephone and SMS. If you’d like to give £5 but do not wish to receive marketing communications, text  SAINTANNENOINFO to 70460.

Text SAINTANNE to 70470 to donate £10. Texts cost £10 plus one standard rate message and you’ll be opting in to hear more about our work and fundraising via telephone and SMS. If you’d like to give £10 but do not wish to receive marketing communications, text  SAINTANNENOINFOto 70470.

If you would like any support with using text giving for your parish or encounter any issues please contact g.boggan@rcaol.org.uk , a.davis@rcaol.org.ukd.melling@rcaol.org.uk or j.mcmahon@rcaol.co.uk and we will be happy to assist.
I hope all the above is self explanatory,
Take care and stay safe
God Bless,
John